Diverse, innovative leaders and organizations succeed when challenges arise. According to a global survey of more than 1500 CEOs conducted by IBM, creativity is the most crucial factor for future success. With this in mind, more game designers are building creative toys for kids. Preparing kids to be creative problem solvers starts at an early age, with toys that are “open-ended, with limited rules or guidelines and no correct answer or end goal,” according to clinical neuropsychologist Laura Phillips.
There are now dozens of toys on the market that stimulate inventive creativity for kids. These STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, the Arts, and Math) toys are a great start for the kids—or kids-at-heart—in your life.
1. Asteroid Escape
For a new take on the classic sliding tiles game, Smart Games’ Asteroid Escape is an innovative option. Playing as a spaceship stranded in an asteroid field, players must shuffle the ship around to free it from the field while avoiding the protruding asteroid tiles. The game includes 60 challenges that increase in difficulty, while teaching strategies for planning how to get around future obstacles.
2. Creativity Can
The only thing uniform about the Creativity Can is its contents: air-dry clay, felt, pom poms, wiggly eyes, and more. After opening, the only limit is a crafter’s imagination. It is completely open-ended—the only rule is that there aren’t any rules!
3. Gravity Maze®
Some kids need a little guidance before getting creative. Gravity Maze® offers just that, with cards that point players toward the right path for their marble maze. Sixty challenges of varying difficulties test kids’ reasoning skills and visual perception.
Magna-Tiles® offer all the fun of building, without any of the challenges of popping pieces together. The magnetic building blocks are great for younger hands (ages 3 and up). This toy encourages creativity in 3D while also being incredibly durable.
5. Makey Makey
Founded by two MIT Media Lab students, Makey Makey combines open-ended possibilities with the attention-grabbing power of digital technology. These innovative toy sets encourage kids to make just about anything (that conducts electricity) into a key for a computer. If controlling a game of Super Mario with Play-Doh buttons sounds more fun than using the space bar, this one is for your family!
Mats and rugs covered with roads, as well as customizable train tracks and racetracks, are great for open-ended play. For even more creativity, opt for PlayTape. You can stick this road down anywhere, from floors to walls, as well as lots of surfaces in between.
7. Turing Tumble
Turing Tumble lets kids build mechanical computers, powered by marbles, to solve a series of logic puzzles. Often, when kids are learning how to code, they get discouraged by syntax. In Turing Tumble, programs are coded without any language at all, building raw programming skills without a steep learning curve. This toy teaches not only coding but also how computers work. Players use six different types of parts to build computers that can generate patterns, add, subtract, multiply, divide, compare numbers, and more.
Creative kids and innovative adults alike love Zometool. The construction sets, which are a sophisticated upgrade from other building blocks, are specific enough to challenge older kids, while still offering enough flexibility for younger kids to enjoy creating. According to the company’s CIO, Carlos Neumann, “artists, scientists, and researchers… model complex phenomena in their field” with Zometool too!